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Keeping up with the Jones's

Does anyone else experience the pressure from other women who live out of their means just to keep up with the friends and neighbors around them,....? I've got an average life, average house, average vehicle, Etc. I'm paying my bills on time, and have very little cc debt. There are people in my life who comment if I have on shoes from target. A friend of mine of 8 years walks into a room with a new louis vitton or coach handbag every month, and flaunts it even though I know she doesn't have the money to buy those things. She pays her cell phone bill, and car payment with credit cards sometimes. I feel like I get caught up in it sometimes because honestly there is pressure to have the next best thing. Most of my concern is with my young children. What are we teaching them if they're going to be made fun of if they don't have the newest gadgets, cell phones, clothes. I want to feel normal, and I want my innocent kids to stay innocent and enjoy life without the pressure to have it all and look beautiful doing it.
I guess what I am looking for here is whether any of you have ways of dealing with friends, neighbors, co-workers who lead you to believe they have it all, and you're left with the snubs because you don't.

What can I do next?

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"Debt free is the way to be!" is what I tell them. I don't have trouble sleeping at night wondering how all the bills will be paid. There will always be people who have more than I do, and some will want to lord it over me, but they can't bother me with it if I don't let them.

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I think that teaching your children that they don't have to have the latest fad or cool thing to be content is the best gift you can give them. We live in such a consumer society and there is so much pressure, but good for you for having low debt and in general being content with what you have.

In my own life I have purposefully surrounded myself with friends and a community that either have access to less than me (including refugees), or intentionally choose to live a simpler lifestyle. It keeps me in check, and gives me perspective. For example, do I really need a $100 pair of shoes when someone I know can barely afford their $500 a month rent?

And remember, that fancy car or purse... they don't own it. It owns them.

AND Target ROCKS. :)

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I grew up in a very upper middle class to lower high class neighborhood. Some kids in my high school drove to school in BMWs and Mercedes. At the time, I was lucky and had a great group of friends from diverse income levels and was never criticized for wearing less than name brand clothing. I can really understand the pressure to keep up with them, though, even as an adult. However, now I just feel sad for people who waste their money on silly possessions. Now, it just seems so self-centered. Seriously, you need a $500 purse when a $100 one would allow you to donate the other $400 to people in need right now? Or that $400 could go to their children's college funds.

Your children may come out of this all right. They're growing up coming out of a major recession and frivilous spending is frowned upon. Just raise them with strong values and hopefully they will select friends with similar values.

Honestly, if someone criticized my shoes from Target, I would just respond flatly that I live within my means and like the shoes, so why does she care? At the same time, I'd be wondering why I considered this person a friend.

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Wow, if you are actually feeling snubbed I might look for a different group of friends.

I have felt some internal pressure to "keep up w/ the jones'" but it helps me to focus on our goals. I mean their goal might be to have a flashy car or accessories, my goal is to spend more time together as a family and to live debt free (other than our mortgage, which we plan to pay off in 20 years). I could have flashy things too, if I wanted to go into debt or work long hours.

I'm glad I have friends like me who are unashamed to hit the clearance rack at Target or even go thrift store shopping. I do have some friends with designer duds but I don't feel like they look down on those who don't have them.

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Remember in the end you will be able to retire without debt and when you are ready. I have friends who are in their mid forties who added a very expensive addition to their house. Would I like a bigger house maybe but I do not want the bills to go with it at 46. It is nice to know that I am debt free and have peace of mind. Recently I had to quit work for family and medical reasons and we are able to do it because we did not live beyond our means. When someone comments on the size of my house I just take pride in the fact that we own this house and have no mortage payments. I am happy that we were able to send our daughter to the private highschool that she wanted to go to and that we have money put aside for our daughters college. All this is more important then where my shoes came from or what brand purse I have. Sometimes you just have to remind yourself what is really important and to me it is providing for my children and being debt free.

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We live in an affluent area (loved the affluenza comment by another mom, BTW), and the keeping-up mentality is everywhere.

Before getting laid off last May, I was really surrounded by it. I had one business partner who only shopped at Banana (Republic), Ann Taylor and Nordstrom. She was the most self-absorbed person I've ever met. We didn't do well as partners.
Though my salary took a hit (didn't think it was responsible to turn town a reasonable job offer in this economy), I really prefer the people I work with now. They're very down to earth, and I believe they'd have my back 100% if I ever needed it.

My husband I were talking the other day about how our kids still play with all the old stand-by's that kids have enjoyed for ages - coloring supplies, bats/balls, bikes, dolls, sand boxes, etc.

Our kids are mostly dressed from Target, Kohl's, Children's Place/Old Navy (because their sales rock). I've only purchased 1 item in 4 years from Gymboree.

I'd rather focus our energies on teaching our kids, making them decent people and respecting what they have than indulging them. We focus on making sure they have college funds secured. We're going to take our first vacation in 5 years later this year and are sharing the cost with friends. We use the library for lots of books, movies, music.

If you surround yourself with people like you, I think it's easier to keep your focus from shifting on the people you're less like.
If people snub me, I do take it personally, but at the end of the day, I've learned so many more of life's lessons in a short time, I don't have time to waste on people who don't have the same values as us.

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Hi H.,
That is certainly been a problem since we live in very affluent area (where most people have "affluenza!) Most kids here get more stuff in their Easter Baskets than we give ours at Christmas. We have just told them over the years that we do things differently. My boys are teenagers now and they can see with some of their friends that getting everything you ask for has not been a good thing. What we are teaching them is how to properly manage money and live responsibly. We are also building character.
V.

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Wait a minute...Are there people out there that say Target is not cool or low rent?! A pox on them. Target rocks. =)

Girl -- You are not alone. I think my biggest pain points (and truly, I consider it my problem) are:

1.) My friends that somehow afford super expensive salon stuff (cuts, color, mani/pedis, product). I sometimes want to just shave my head because I certainly could never ever justify spending that kind of cash on something so...so...transitory and ultimately useless.

2.) Kitchens -- I would love love love granite counters and high-end flooring and stainless appliances. Just not going to happen so I just have to grin and bear it when it is our turn to host.

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One thing to remember is that the people (mostly women) who do this are insecure in some way or another and want to appear as though they are higher and mightier. In fact, they "appear" as insecure as they really are because you know they are drowning in debt.

A sad part is that they probably don't have retirement and college savings funded which is wrong.

I am very fortunate to live a life of my dreams but we have worked very hard for what we have and we do not go into debt . We are most proud that we are fully funded on our retirement and our daughter's college. Delayed gratification is difficult for many to understand but for the ones who do understand it.....rewards are wonderful. We are blessed...... It is funny, people tell us now "you are so lucky" ......NO, WE ARE NOT LUCKY...... We just planned and used our brains.

Things even out in the long run.

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Honestly, so much of what we think is beautiful is what we have been "taught" by advertising. Looking at these things objectively, there is nothing particularly "beautiful" about a Coach or Vitton handbag, beyond the prestige we imagine we will receive by flaunting those brand names. Other, similarly designed bags are as beautiful, and will serve as well or better at much lower cost.

Commercial messages tell us constantly that we will be more satisfied, respected, admired, and happy if we have the right stuff. Is it true?
Absolutely not (and I almost NEVER use the word "absolutely," but it fits here). We might get a temporary thrill (which for some people becomes an addiction) from treating ourselves to something special, but then we are the same people, with the same needs, dissatisfactions, and anxieties about whether we are "good enough" to earn other people's respect.

There is a great secret to a happy life that is seldom mentioned in our culture of immediate gratification, impulse buying, and chronic waste. That secret is gratitute, and it can be cultured. A moment of thanks before eating, a pause a few times a day to take delight in something of beauty we already have, cleaning out the closet once or twice a year and "thanking" the items we no longer use or need and passing them on to others who have less, appreciating the simple gifts of a warm home, nourishing meals, a soft pillow under our heads at night, access to medical care if we get sick, a regular paycheck, reliable transportation – things that too many people have no hope of – these habits are the healthiest things we can learn for ourselves and teach to our children.

I have come to understand that those friends who rely on having stuff to plump up their self-regard are needy, and I am incredibly grateful not to have such needs. I have simply become immune to such messages. Really, if I have any response at all, it's a feeling of sympathy.

I left the TV behind when I left my first marriage. It was one of the best things I ever did, for myself AND for my then 8yo daughter. The reduction in noise and messages of desire and greed made a tremendous difference in our lives.

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All i can say is to be very thankfull that you are a responsible person. Our society leads us to believe that we have to have it all right now! Enjoy your life without debt and teach your kids that the best things in life are family and friends, not STUFF and though the fancy gadgets and things might be nice money in the bank and no CC debt will be alot more rewarding.

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Not exactly answering your question but just want to encourage you by telling you that you're doing a GREAT JOB with teaching your children that their value isn't in what they have. Yeah, sounds soooo cliche! But isn't it soo true?

Don't be discouraged by others showing off. But be proud to know that you go to bed at night not stressed over debt. These women may be flaunting their goods, but there ain't anything good about what they're feeling inside. And believe me, they are stressed-out over money!

One thing I've learned is the ones who talk the most, are the one who have the least. Don't get caught in their web of lies and ruin the path that you've created for yourself and family. Stay clear of that!

All the best to you.

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Honestly, I could care less what people think. I shop at Target, Walmart, resale shops, and dare I say garage sales. If these people are so shallow that they have to put you down for wearing shoes form target or anywhere else, then these would not be people I would associate with.

Also, just think about the debt they are in, and how relatively debt free you are. That is better then having a coach purse I think.

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Do not choose materialistic friends~
There are deeper people out there, who will not judge you in such a
childish way. Seek them out..they are there.
Money can be gone in a flash-you can loose everything you own in an instant. What next? It's all God's anyway.
If you choose deep, you will find friends that are deep...
If you are worried about material things on this planet..you will meet people who only see the material :)

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Change your idea of who the "Jones's" are. We have friends who are in their early 40s and both of them are retired. That's right - retired. They worked very hard their entire lives, lived frugally and invested, and waited till later to have children. They now still live frugally off of their investments and stay at home enjoying their 3 young children. I am sure one of them will go back to work eventually, but at this point they are enjoying the fruits of their labor while they are young and the can enjoy. So they are my "Jones's" - they are who I aspire to be like and they are who I choose to spend my time with.

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One thing that this recession has done for me is open my eyes to how few people are actually "the Jones's". I am fortunate that in our area people have no problem being thrifty or saying that they just can't afford things anymore. I think it is hard to admit it, but once someone does, everyone else breathes a sigh of relief and is like "me too!" I live in fairly well off suburb. It is not like the affluent suburb that surrounds us, but people have nice houses and nice things. My house is smaller than most in our town, and it used to bother me. But now it seems like everyone is in the same boat. It is almost a competition to be thrifty around here. If you aren't on the Dave Ramsey plan, or cutting coupons, or shopping consignment sales, then you are the fool, not the other way around. Maybe it is because Dave Ramsey is based right down the road from us, but a lot of people are on his Financial Peace Program and it is almost a snob thing. Maybe you should try flaunting your financial stability, and being snobby about your good choices (not really, but you know what I mean). Take pride in your smart financial sense and speak openly about it. Maybe other people will follow suit, and not feel so embarrassed to say that they also can't afford Coach handbags. It amazes me some people are still so irresponsible with thier money after the past couple of years.

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I have not experienced this myself , but would like to say that the way you are living is the right way to be living & I am sure that those other women probably wish they had more "free" money rather than owing it all to cc companies. I LOVE target btw , most of my kids clothes I buy in there and some of my own aswell. If I were you the next time one of my so called friends made a comment I would just say "yeah but we like to have money so we can go on vacation or buy stuff when we want & not have cc debt hanging around our necks for the next 5 yrs just so I could have pair of shoes!

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I couldn't imagine spending $500 on a purse even if I had more money than I knew what to do with. I buy just about everything on sale or clearance. We have a lot of gadgets and toys but we own them outright. We waited until we had cash and then bought used. We usually only buy new cars because we don't want to buy someone elses problem. My car is the first used car that we have bought in 12 years. I didn't finance a car until I was 26 and only did it then because my husband convinced me I could afford the payment. I am in lending and you can clearly see the keeping up with the joneses and I want it now credit syndrome. When you have 18-20 year olds applying for $30,000 cars!!!!!!!! The most I've paid for a car is the one I'm currently driving that we bought at age 36, my husband has had some expensive trucks but this is my first luxury car. It's funny because I have an Acura MDX and I absolutely love it but when I'm talking to strangers about cars and they ask what I drive I feel funny telling them what I drive. Like it categorizes me as a joneses. I know its silly but it does. I will say we bought it used because I fell in love with it (its an 08, I was looking more at the 06 model for price but my husband liked the 07-current style) and we saved a lot by buying it certified used. Again I don't pay full price for anything. If we don't have the cash then we don't buy it.

Another joneses thing is cell phones. My phone is 4 1/2 yrs old, I would love a new one but I'm waiting for the right deal to come along. The one I want I can get on sale, blah blah for $99 but I don't want to spend that much. =)

Keep doing what you are doing, your kids will learn responsibility through you. They will hopefully also appreciate things better knowing the costs and the difference of a want and a need.

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When the pressure gets to you, think about this: In 20, 30, or 40 years where we they probably be??? Living in debt, proverty, or having to be taken care of financially by other people probably. And you will most likely not. Seriously, I know it is hard to not get caught up in it, but debt is not something you want just so that you can look good to other people. When it all goes down, you'll probably be the one still standing!

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We have to teach our children very young that STUFF won't make them happy. So many people never learn this...

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I posted something recently along these lines, but more from the perspective of dealing with people who complain about being "poor" when the continue to to overspend.

I too struggle with keeping it all in perspective. I know what my priorities are, that it's more important to save than spend and how to cut costs. However for me, it's not keeping up with them as much as it's that I do WANT some of the new things. But do I really need them? The answer is usually no. So I don't.

I like my house. I like the vacations we do plan. I am VERY happy with my life.

For me, that's enough.

I am teaching my small children that of course there are WANTs. But I am also teaching them, do you want another Polly Pocket, or would you like to have money for something when we go to Disney (not even planned yet). Also, I am teaching them about coupons. And that the Ritz we just bought cost $4, now $2 on sale and only $1 because of our coupon. Then we take our $3 saved and buy a slushie for each of us. I explain that if we didn't shop the sale and use our coupon ALL of that money would have ONLY paid for the crackers.

I have taught them that we may not have A LOT of money (like TV stars) but we like the money we DO have and that we work hard to keep it. We buy what we need, a few things we want and save the rest.

So when people are flaunting their new cars, cell phones, purses, recent vacations, I TRY to listen and simply say, that's nice, or sounds great. And when they complain about credit card debit or creditors calling, I find something else to do or walk away (smiling inside becuase I can't relate).

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"Debt free is the way to be!" is what I tell them. I don't have trouble sleeping at night wondering how all the bills will be paid. There will always be people who have more than I do, and some will want to lord it over me, but they can't bother me with it if I don't let them.

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Hi!

Remember that the only pressure you are getting to keep up with the Jones is from yourself! Don't let that self-talk defeat you or second guess you.

Instead, let's teach our kids to excel, not to compete or not to compare! Appreciate that everyone has different priorities, don't judge.

If I were to measure myself based on material things my friends have, I would be defeated. Instead, I focus on the similarities we all share....and that is doing the best we can for our families. It looks different from household to household, but being confident that you're doing the best you can is priceless and a great quality to pass on to children! Imagine how this world would look like if we all were happy with what we had!! Wars would end.....

S.

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I truly believe that those who flaunt items, brag or make others aware of what they have do so because they are insecure & truly don't "have" as much as they think. I see many examples of this: the person who leases a luxury vehicle b/c he/she cannot afford to buy one, the person who charges name brand items knowing full well they have enough cc debt as it is, the person who is "house poor" b/c they buy a house they really cannot afford. I don't try to keep up with others, that's a pitiful thing to do. I am very humble & if anything act like I have less than I do. I also believe if you can't buy the item outright, you can't afford it. Credit cards are not free money. Just know you are the stronger & better person b/c you are being you & not trying to "put on airs." Be confident & know at some point those people will learn the err of their ways (when the bank comes knocking!). I do worry about my kids too. I've heard of young elementary age kids not being friends with another child b/c he didn't have the newest electronic toy. It's a tough line b/t having your kid fit in & spoiling him. Sounds like you're doing everything right & don't let people make you feel pressured. I personally wouldn't even comment on the new purse every month, it just feeds the person's ego & rewards their behavior.

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Well, turn the snub on them! If someone points out your "cheap" shoes respond with a "yea, aren't they cute! they were cheap too! I HATE spending money on stupid stuff like expensive purses and shoes that I will discard at the end of the season". Typically the excessive spending is insecurities on their part. What you are seeing is them trying to keep up with the Jones's - if you keep yourself from being sucked in you can teach your children that valuable lesson. Something I told myself before I quit my high paying job in Nov. of 2008 is "I may be rich, but I'm not rich in life". I've never been happier to spend days with my son and wear target shoes. It's just stuff and if that is all your 'friends' are focused on then you need to decide if these are the types of people you want to surround yourself with. I also live in a highly affluent area and you will have a mix of realist riches and trying riches. Stick with the real ones and remind yourself you don't think any less of a person because they are rich and they don't think any less of you because you aren't. And if they do...well, you know what you should do.

Good luck H.!
T.

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Two investment bankers go to a party at such a hedge fund manager's house, it's a guy they've known since college and he is happy to give his old friends a tour, seeing as they too can appreciate the finer things in life. There are giant koi in the immaculate Japanese garden pond...the home theatre seats 30 in velvet upholstered seats...the exercise complex includes a suite as the personal trainer lives in.

Admiring the specimen trees from the balcony of the library, one guest turns to the other and says, "Do you have anything that he hasn't got?" To which the other replies, "Yes...enough."

There is always somebody who has more than you do, so the dynamic you describe exists at every rung of the economic ladder. Deciding whether to try to climb it is one thing...pretending you are on a higher rung than you are is a disaster.

On the other hand, there is a certain chic in not spending even when you can. It feels good to get a bargain, and yes, Target rocks.

But if money is always tight, then wisdom is the thing that will burnish any of your possessions no matter how battered (well-loved!) they are.

If your wardrobe and your house reflect your values, then you and your home will be beautiful to anyone who you would be happy to call a friend.

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Your kids are going to see this type of behavior no matter what you do. The best thing for them is for mom and dad to set a good example, which it sounds like you are doing. I have no plans to let my son have a cell phone at 10 years old either, so you are not alone! I keep my boys in style by shopping at Old Navy most of the time, but I have so many coupons and they have so many sales, that I rarely pay more than 50% of the sticker price. His friends don't need to know that! Continue on the path you are on and your kids will learn the value of a dollar and the importance and freedom of living debt free.

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H., society has a lot to make changes to, as we are still struggling to adjust to a new economy. Here in Vegas, our local government and/or school district will be either cutting pay or laying off 1700 - 1800 people. Vegas is transient, so people will look to move out of the area and return to their home town or to the next booming area. In any event, we are no where near the end of this recession. Be proud of your discipline. It will help and show in the near future.

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H.,

You will be the one who makes the biggest impact on your kids and what they understand about wants and needs. I come from a modest background, a rural background. NONE of my peers growing up had all the stuff that kids seem to have today. Now, my husband and I do OK. But that doesn't mean that I have a Louis Vitton purse... or a Coach purse... I carry a diaper bag :)

Talk to your kids about what is important. Tell them why you don't have a fancy purse, that it isn't important to you (and that they are ridiculously expensive).

This is not the same situation - but I have a good single friend (no kids) who recently was laid off from her job. She is lucky to have found a new one starting one month after her layoff, but she was telling me how much credit card debit she has, how she was afraid she wouldn't be able to pay her bills, she borrowed money from her parents to get buy for that month. She worked with my husband, had been at the company longer... I'm guessing they made about the same amount of money. We are a family of 5 and we live off that salary and save some every month. HOW on earth could she (as a single person, with a much smaller house/mortgage) be struggling financially? Well - she spends her money on massages, purses, a new car, fancy iphone, etc.

I think that we will be the ones who come out of this recession in the clear, not those who are still purchasing all the "stuff".

We are the normal ones :)

J.

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Forget about keeping up with the Jones' I feel that there are enough challenges everyday without taking that one on too. I know lots of people who have taken out second mortgages on their homes in order to keep up with the Jones' and they are swimming in debt right now. And they continue to be miserable. Our home will be paid off shortly and we look forward to the extra money we will have to put away for our children.
I don't pay full price for anything especially clothes. I would hate to go out a pay $50.00 for a blouse then see it 75% off the next week. I never understood all the hupla over a cellphone. Who cares as long as you are able make and recieve calls. I pride myself in always getting the best deal for my money.
I say let them snub all they want. In the end you will be the one with money in your checking and savings account. All the people keeping up with jones will have is an outdate wardrobe because they have no money left.

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I'm like you--our house is paid for, no credit card debt, no car payments and saving for retirement & college.
If we need something or want it, we have the cash to pay for it. We don't believe in "easy payment plans."
You are not weird--they ARE!
You are not deprived--they ARE!
We all know people like that and I think it must be sad to be them, that a Coach bag (I think they're UGLY and I could have one IF I wanted one) could hold so much importance (and so LITTLE money!)
The age old advice holds true in this instance: Ignore them. Their world will come crashing down around them one day.

P.S. Did you know that a very high percentage of millionaires NEVER buy a new car? It's perhaps one of the most foolish financial decisions you can make.

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I grew up in a neighborhood that was all about what you have, how you dresses, who you know etc. The parents spent a lot of time bragging about their kids and spending money on cars, clothing etc. My parents lived in this neighborhood because there were a lot of other kids our age and the school system was among the best (well, that and it was close to my dad's office!).
As a young adult I was frustrated when my parents wouldn't give me whatever I wanted to keep up with my friends...I had nice clothes, but not the brands I was SUPPOSED to have according to my peers. My parents were all about giving us what we NEEDED and having us EARN what we WANTED. Also, my siblings and I were acutely aware of the fact that my mother almost never bought things for herself. We would go to the mall and walk through the department stores on the way to buy our school clothes or something and my mother would stop and see an outfit she obviously would've loved to have - we would actually often try to convince her to buy it - and she never would. She didn't have junky clothes, but she didn't buy herself new stuff very often - maybe once and a while for a special occasion. I learned a lot just from watching that (even though I didn't know what I was learning when I was in the moment). So even though I was frustrated as a kid that I didn't have all the "things" my friends did, as an adult, I am grateful to my parent's for teaching me what is important.
I am married to a guy who makes a great living and who was raised like me - we could afford to do a lot of showing off and keeping up...but we choose to spend our money on other things. We have a comfortable home and mid-level, affordable and efficient cars, our kids mostly wear Target clothes (because they grow out of them SO QUICKLY, don't they!?) but we do spend a lot of money to send our kids to the best school we can. And because of that, there is a lot of temptation to keep up with my son's friend's mommies...I just remind myself that having money doesn't make me "better" than anyone, it just makes me the same. What I feel good about is that we put a lot of our money towards charity and helping people out. We spend our money to visit my family who all live out of state so that my son can build strong relationships with the people that will be in his life and love him forever.
Just know that your kids ARE going to feel the pressure...it is your job to lead them and help them understand why this should not be a priority. In my humble opinion, you are already doing the most important thing you can do to teach them those lessons - you are teaching by example - do good for you :)
Best of luck!

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From what I can see, I agree with everyone! I would definitely surround yourself w/ a new support group (friends/church). I know, it seems to late in the game to be making new friends, but trust me it's easier than you think! I am also a Target fan :-)
Oh, and in this day in age, those high maintenance families are going to be the first to go straight down the drain...

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Whenever my husband and I feel jealous of the Joneses, we remind ourselves that they are just like us but with more debt! We are on the Dave Ramsey plan, and it has made us feel so empowered and responsible - we are working on having zero debt and looking forward to a great retirement someday.

I think a lot of the Joneses need validation that what they are doing is ok - that's why you are feeling pressure from them. They want to feel like it's ok to spend money needlessly, and I would bet that their finances aren't in great shape. It makes them feel guilty to see you not doing those things and being responsible. They just feel bad about what they are doing and want you to do it to to alleviate their sense of guilt or fear. If everyone is living beyond their means, they don't have to feel bad about it because it's "normal."

H.:

I completely relate but the pressure it is more internal. I have not experienced the snubs and I'm sorry you've had to deal with it. We are very fortunate to have all of these average things and little or no debt. Imagine what better health, peace of mind and clarity we have over our counterparts who are in debt.
Keep doing what you are doing and keep looking at the big picture. Expose your little ones to all walks of life. There are many people out there less fortunate than us. Show them how living within your means you are able to enjoy life with little expense. Show them how to help those less fortunate too. Donating their toys, collecting canned goods , etc. No one "needs" high priced things to thrive. You "need" food, love, shelter to thrive. Those high priced items are a treat when you are capable and comfortable enough to divulge (in my opinion). Stay strong in your mind, you are in a much better situation. That is how I deal. That and I bury my head on occasion. I am guilty of living in a fantasy world of no crime, blooming flowers and never-ending love. Be the change you want to see in the world. :) Best of luck to you!

I see you have a lot of responses, and I have not read them yet, but your question definitely touched my heart! I have a passion for encouraging people that there is SOO much value in being financially wise. It is true, our "society" as a whole has adopted the "I can have (and should have) anything I want right now" philosophy. But they are neglecting to look into the future. I am a fan of Dave Ramsey (you can google him for more info), and he encourages people to "live like no one else today so that you can LIVE like no one else in the future!" meaning that if we live with limits right now, we are setting ourselves up to enjoy a VERY comfortable life as we age (and set up a positive heritage for our family).

I understand the pressure though, when you are surrounded by people who seem to be getting whatever they want. This topic came up with some friends the other day, and we agreed that your perspective is really influenced by the people surrounding you - - if you live in a well-to-do neighborhood, you can lose sight of the fact that it IS okay to enjoy the average house, the average vehicle, clothes, etc . . .

I guess what I want to say is hang in there! You are teaching your kids such valuable lessons by demonstrating wisdom in your financial decisions. Engage them in conversations about the decisions you have made as a family (ex why you chose to buy a used car instead of a new, what a budget means for purchases, etc). Teach them how to save their money to buy something they really want instead of the credit card instant gratification. Help them understand there is value in leaving within your means! I would also encourage you to make sure you are surrounding yourself with enough "average" friends to help filter the thoughts that come about your friends living outside their means. Does that make sense? And if people are making negative comments about your shoes from Target, how close of friends should they really be?? :) Eventually your friend with the Louis Vitton will learn the error of her ways, and you can be there to help her pick up the pieces (so to speak) and show her wisdom!

I'm just open with them, when they tell me abut their coach bag I go: "really, I got a great bag at T.J, Max" or "Stainmart has great shoes"; after that, they stop bragging and pressuring because they now I'm not into playing that game or they start telling me when they actualy get bargains.
Hope this helps!

I can totally empathize. For me, the best thing was to remove myself and my family from that lifestyle. Unfortunately, this resulted in losing a friend, but being around her wasteful, flaunting (and debt-ridden lifestyle) was hurtful for me, even when I tried to have an honest conversation with her about. It turns out it was also hurtful for her: she said that when we went shopping (which to me means window shopping) it made her feel guilty that she bought lots of unnecessary, expensive stuff and I didn't buy anything (that was not my intention--my intention was to enjoy window shopping!). I didn't make an issue of it, but had an honest discussion about the very basics of our financial situation (1 income family) and that we choose to live within our means and not incur debt.

Anyway, long story short, avoiding consumerism has been the best thing for our piece of mind. Other things that help include: making a game of shopping, by seeing how much you can save by comparison shopping, shopping at the thrift store (if you make a game of shopping at the thrift stores/second hand stores, you'd be surprised at how many times you find Ann Taylor, Tommy Hilfiger, etc. label clothes & other similar stuff!).

Other things that helped us - reading the Tightwad Gazette, which is a compilation of articles on frugal living, and addresses some of the very issues you're talking about (how to [try to] raise your kids so that they are not keeping up with the Joneses), as well as tons of info on saving $. We also subscribe to Cindy's Porch (http://www.cindysporch.net/) email newsletter--this has been great ongoing encouragement to live the simple, frugal life. :)

Keep up the good work of living responsibly within your means, and your kids will learn your good habits!

H., I think you're doing a great job! I think so much of what we feel as external pressure is only a perceived situation - most people probably agree with you.

My husband's a pastor and I'm trained in international development... We've seen real poverty - both here and overseas - and that's not where the vast majority of Americans find themselves. We're just made to feel that way if we don't look, dress, act or say the right things. The real question becomes "Are you/ your children/ your family happy, healthy, clothed, sheltered, fed and loved?" Everything else is secondary.

Good for you and the choices you've made. Keep the faith, eliminate the media titans, and continue loving your kids and making the choices you feel comfortable with.

I am SO not into name brands and I think a Louis Vitton bag (besides being totally ugly!!!) is a huge waste of money! Coach too... ugly!

I plan on teaching my kids the value of money, and why you can get something so much cheaper (and better looking) for so much less, and have money left over to DO other things. I would rather spend money DOING something fun than buying things to collect dust and clutter.

My favorite quote is "TIME is the best thing to SPEND on a child" Buying things does not make your kid happy... it's spending time doing things with them, creating memories... those are PRICELESS!!!

I can't imagine someone commenting on the things i wear... I buy clothes at Ross, target, etc. I buy generic brands of everything. I am confident in who I am... so even if someone said something to me, it wouldn't bother me. I would be thinking how stupid they are for wasting so much money. I don't think I would have friends that shallow though. Or maybe she's insecure? Or childish? That is very immature to comment on someone's clothes, unless you are saying that you love it! So maybe my suggestion is to find friend who have the same values as you!

This is a totally different situation, but my 5 year old daughter had a gymnastics birthday party. her classmate wasn't going to come because he told his cousin that he was going to a gymnastics party, and his cousin said it was for girls. I told the mom to tell him that they were going to jump on trampolines and into a foam pit, and it wouldn't be girly. he finally came and had a blast! When I saw him next, i said "see, you can't listen to what other people say!!! You would have missed all that fun!" Use things like that as a teachable moment. :-)

I set limits on what I think is resonable to spend on things, and stick to it. A guy i work with once said "you wonder how people have the things they do, but then you find out that their parents are helping them out or something" and realize you aren't doing so bad if you are doing it for yourself. Know what i mean?

There is nothing wrong with you. Good for you for living within your means. Do not be surprised if deep down that person is jealous that you aren't in the same state she is in. She will be at your door crying one day because the mess she is in.

H.,

Make some new friends...people who build themselves up by putting others down are not "real friends". Just imagine what they say behind your back?

Blessings.....

Maybe you can seek out other friends who seem a bit more grounded. You seem to be right on with your life/priorities/and raising your children to be capable when it comes to debt, and finances. What kind of example are we setting by surrounding ourselves with materialistic and sounds like, rude friends? I ask my children many times if their friends have the good qualities we need to sustain a friendship. Is it a person who might be fun to play a game of soccer with, but not a person who is of great character and makes us feel good for just being ourselves?? GOOD friends are few and far between. I know lots of people, but only consider a handful of them my friends. Maybe you could slowly separate from those who bring you down and open yourself up to meet someone who makes you feel good about being you! It is probably the one person standing on the outside of the materialistic, egocentric circle looking in.....the one who is looking for the same thing that you are......good luck!

Don't bother keeping up with them. Don't live beyond your means EVER! I shop at Target, Fashion Bug and even, sometimes, Goodwill. I have a nice looking starter wadrobe and if I have enough money, I'll splurge on something nice at Coldwater Creek or a Department store. I do have friends that shop the good stores. I usually compliment them on their find and move on. If they are teasing you about shopping at Target are they really such good friends?

There is a thing called voluntary simplicity that talks about everything you own, owns you. You can google to find out more about it.

Decide what YOU want and be comfortable with it. I sometimes miss my crazy big salary and even threw up on the last day of work 7 years ago but I have loved my kids childhood and being a part of it.(my job was 6 days a week and lots of travel). Money has been a stress at times but I don't regret the decision.

What decision will you not regret? Once you make it, just be happy in the place you are and wish others all the best in their decisions. I've had more fun walking in the woods with my kids than I did taking them to Disneyworld.

Nobody can make you feel inferior w/out your consent -E. Roosevelt

What business is it of theirs? My advice to you is to limit the time you spend with these people and seek out friends who care about you and not about what you have or do not have. I have friends who hav more than me , and friends who have less, but we don't compare. You must teach your children that people should be valued for who they are, not their possessions.
Change the subject, or walk away if you have to , to put an end to these comparisons.
You and your family do things your way and you have you values, that is what is important....be content in your stability.
Also, you and your children can get int the habit of keeping "Gratitude Journals" which help you to keep things in the right perspective.
Every day, write down 5 or more things that you are grateful for from that day.
You will be surprised far this will go in making things feel .....just content.
It helps you to enjoy what you have.....and you know that we all have so much to be thakful for.
Congratulations on your financial stability.....so many do not have that.

wow. just wow.

where are these people? so i can avoid them. you are doing right dear. it sounds like you had the misfortune of being raised around this type of mentality. move to the country or something. surrounding yourself with different attitudes might help you feel less crappy every time you are around your "friends".

many women, me including. would love a LV purse. of course i would be flaunting it. i bet ya i will get one, after i raise my kids, put them through college, and give them some $$ to start their adult life post-school. i can afford one too right now, but i'd feel like a donkey if i got one. i want one, i don't need one, therefore i don't own one, makes sense?
i like to dress in brand name clothes, because i feel their quality is superior to not so name brand stores. nothing wrong with that. but this comes after years of hard work, house paid, no CC debt, no car payments, but still paying private school for kids, groceries and vacations. i am afraid of what ifs, that's why none of us goes nuts with spending. i do hear my husband, even in my sleep, saying he wants a basement finished and a truck. he's not getting either right now. the economy needs to get better for everyone before i loosen up with spending.
what i am trying to tell you is to each their own. your friends spend, and they live for right now. nothing wrong with that. you save, keep head and family afloat, again, nothing wrong with that. they shouldn't be judged, you shouldn't be judged. if you choose to dress with clothes from target, keep your head up high. it is your choice. if they choose to buy LV, and coach, and DB left and right you should be ok with that too. you're not paying for their choices. hopefully they won't hit rock bottom. and if they do, you'll be there to comfort them, because you're their friend.

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